I recently sat down with the very first winner of the “Fresh Face Friday” contest held here at Your EDM to talk about his inspirations, his journey through the music creation process, the reaction he had towards the contest along with many others topics. This guy has been the guinea pig of the contest and has proven to be quite the first contender. He has earned his title as Your EDM’s Fresh Face by competing in three different phases of the contest and beating out all the other artists in the weekly, monthly and quarterly phases of the contest. Now all I can say is that this segment has panned out as amazingly as I anticipated when creating the concept of “Fresh Face Friday” and I am glad to see Myüzak take the reigns as the first ever champion of Fresh Face Friday.
Originally born and raised in Southern California, where I currently reside, my buddy Zakk now lives in where I was born and raised, the Bay Area, so it’s only natural that we’ve gotten along so well. Below you can read more about his life as a producer and what the winner of the first ever Fresh Face Friday competition thinks about the segment and what he does outside of producing. Read carefully as you might learn something that might actually boost you to the position he is holding today.
Your EDM interview with Zakk Golz – Myüzak
So let’s get the boring stuff out of the way. Where are you from?
-Born & raised in Riverside, CA
When did you get into music?
-I’ve been in love with music for as long as I can remember, and my taste has evolved a lot along the way. I went from digging hip-hop throughout middle school, to metal in high school, and I’ve been all EDM all the time since starting college in 2011. I don’t see that changing anytime soon! I started creating music myself when I picked up the guitar 5 years ago, and I still use it to create some of my melodies. I started making music electronically in 2012.
What caused you to get into music?
-From a young age music was a form of escape for me. Something about the way it takes the listener on journeys has always fascinated me, and when I record a set I try to replicate that adventurous vibe. In high school, before I got a car, I’d sit at school for like an hour and a half waiting for my mom to get off work and pick me up, and once my friends left I’d happily put on my headphones and get lost in every detail of every track. Eventually I found myself conjuring up all these original ideas in my head but I had no idea how to get them out. So, I picked up a guitar, the book “Guitar for Dummies”, and everything evolved from there. Eventually, as I got into EDM, the sounds in my head became more electronic (duh), and learning a DAW was the next logical step.
Did anyone or anything push you in the direction you’re going now in your music?
-Honestly, I think I’ve pushed myself more than anything else. I’m always striving to improve and develop a sound that’s all my own. Also, coming to a university really opened my mind to different styles of music, especially EDM. Before then I’d pretty much considered electronic music to be “button pushing”, as do many critics to this day. Once I hit the party scene and attended a few shows I realized that dance music is pretty much the greatest thing ever. Since seeing Bassnectar perform at my school’s event center, I’m hooked for life! After the “new & exciting” feeling wore off, though, I started to notice a lot of saturation in the scene, mainly with house. Lots of similar sounds, nearly identical progressions, and the same damn Pryda snare haha. Don’t get me wrong, I still enjoyed the music, but I longed to hear something truly different. Now that I’ve developed my sound a bit, I hope that something different will one day be my music. I’ve still got a looong ways to go, but I’m headed in the right direction, and I’m told by peers and friends alike that I’ve got a sound of my own. I just hope people enjoy my sound as much as I do!
Outside of family, who would you say your biggest influence is and why?
-Probably Porter Robinson. His music captivates me in so many ways, doubly so after seeing his Worlds tour. His first BBC Radio 1 essential mix pretty much introduced me to electro, and it was on repeat throughout my freshman year of college. Recently he did a live stream of Worlds where he discussed each track after it played, as well as answer fan questions. What amazed me the most, among the answers he gave, was that despite all the success he’s had and the highly detailed textures of his sounds, he’s STILL a bedroom producer! He was streaming from his “studio”, in his room at home, you could see his dresser and I think maybe his bed in the background. That right there lets me know that a producer’s ears are truly their most valuable tool, not what equipment they use or what environment they produce in. He’s simply learned to adapt to his surroundings and still pump out bangers that sound sweet on any system. I’ve been striving to do the same. Oh, Skrillex is a major influence too. His music is some of the first EDM I ever heard, and also what got me into sound design.
Who do you do this for? I know for me I do a lot of things to show up ex’s, who’s your spiteful, “I’ll show you” person? – If you have one.
-I make music that I personally love listening to over and over, so I guess I do this primarily for me! I hope that doesn’t sound selfish haha. It’s just that I’ve got a lot of sounds in my head that I need to get out! There’s definitely been some haters though. Usually it’s just random people on the internet that find my music via posts I make in forums seeking feedback. I’m totally open to criticism, but there’s a difference between constructive, helpful negative feedback and negativity for the sake of being negative. I know some of them are trolls, but there’s always a few that tell me what I’m doing doesn’t “work” musically, or it doesn’t have an audience, and I should either conform or give up. But in my head I’m like “Well…I 100% enjoy the way that part sounds, surely I’m not alone?” and as I’ve improved a bit at producing, I’m discovering that’s sometimes true. I don’t try to replicate popularity, I try to stimulate originality. I can’t lie, deep down a little part of me hopes I can make those haters jealous someday haha.
What are your future plans for music? Is this a dream to do full time or are you just messing around at this point?
-After I graduate college, I hope to go to a music school and learn everything I can about production that I haven’t taught myself. Since 2012 I’ve treated music like a career because I want to make it my career one day, as a producer or otherwise. I just love music too much to do anything else; it’s my passion, hands down. I don’t even need fame or loads of cash, if I can make any sort of career out of creating music, I’ll consider my dream accomplished!
What can we expect from you in the near future?
–I’ve recently started work on my first full-length album! It’ll be space themed, and Jupiter could be considered the first single! I consider this my best work yet, and I can’t wait to share the full album! Each track will be named/themed after a different planet of our solar system, and the album will be titled ‘United Under the Sun’! It’ll be made public whenever I’m finished and 100% happy with it!
Who is your dream collaboration with?
-That’s a tough one; there are so many people it’d be amazing to work with. Right now I think it’d be amazing to do something with Snails or Botnek, their sound design is seriously next level and sound design is probably my favorite aspect of production!
Will you sign my T-shirt?
-Only if it’s a plain white tee and you let me sign it nipple to nipple 😉
What do you do for fun outside of producing?
-I’m a pretty avid gamer, Destiny has had me glued to my controller since it released last month. (PS: If you’re on XBOne, let’s play! My GT is Myuzak) Other than that, I’m usually counting down the days to the next show or getting into shenanigans with my fraternity brothers.
Tell us a little more about yourself?
-Well, I’m a really laid back dude who’s happy damn near all the time. It’s really difficult to get under my skin! I find it funny though, my musical taste and my personality don’t necessarily coincide very often. Like, I’m always listening to crazy, upbeat music but I’m super chill at the same time. Really the only time you’ll see me truly turning up and showing my wild side is at a show. The music sort of takes over and I can’t help but shuffle my ass off! You can catch me shuffling from opener to headliner at a house show haha.
What do you use to produce? Any controllers or are you click and drag at this point? – Go into some detail if you can.
I use Ableton Suite 9 as my DAW, my favorite VSTs are Massive, Nexus, and iZotope Ozone 5, and I’m mostly accustomed to clicking and dragging. I’ve been familiar with computers from a young age so working with a mouse and keyboard is just fluid for me. I also have an M-Audio Axiom 25 MIDI controller that I use for writing some melodies and occasionally recording automations. The melody for Jupiter was written on that keyboard. The rest of my melodies I write using my guitars (Schecter Hellraiser C7 and an entry level Yamaha acoustic), then I convert the melodies to MIDI using one of two methods. The first is a tablature program called Guitar Pro that lets me type in the guitar frets then exports it into a MIDI file. The other method is Ableton 9’s awesome new “melody-to-MIDI” feature which allows me to record the melody on my guitar directly into Ableton and it’ll extract the melody and turn it into a MIDI file useable with synths. It’s not perfect, and I’ve usually still got to click and drag to get the melody just how I want it, but it’s pretty damn accurate! When I record sets, I use Serato and keep it simple controller wise with a Numark MixTrack Pro 2.
Do you have a go to place to produce?
-Unfortunately, no, my bedroom is my studio haha. As much as I’d love to get a proper studio set up, it’s just not really feasible while I’m away at college for most of the year and living at my fraternity house (which, as you can imagine, is noisy more often than not haha). I compensate by listening to my works-in-progress on as many different speakers, systems, and headphones as I can to see how it’ll sound once it leaves my room.
How do you start a song? – Certain template, loop or are you scatter brained, meaning you just start with whatever?
I’m pretty scatter brained. I start with whatever I hear in my head first, which is typically a melody or a type of sound design I want to experiment with. I often find myself using that first idea for the drop and expanding into breaks and whatever other sections the track might have as the project progresses. Unless I’m making a four-on-the-floor, “boots-n-cats”, simple house beat, the percussion usually comes later in the process and I try to have the drums accommodate the melody as much as possible as opposed to the other way around. Thanks to my guitarist background I’m all about melody above all else. I really enjoy making my own kicks though! Getting a kick drum to sound exactly the way you want it to is a pretty great feeling.
Ever done any live shows?
-Not yet! To be completely honest, I’m by far more into the creative, production side of music than I am the performance side. I’ve always thought it would be cool to team up with someone who’s really into DJing but not so much into creating music. I could bring the tunes and he/she could bring the sets. I’ve been really inspired by artists such as Porter Robinson and Destroid as well as others that perform everything live instead of mixing tracks together a la the typical DJ set.
Who would you say is the biggest fan of your music?
-I think my mom is proud of everything I’ve done and will always love everything I make haha. Other than that, I definitely get the most support from my fraternity brothers. Around the house, I get called Myuzak more than my first name hahaha
Do you like Country music? – That’s what I’m listening to at the moment.
-I can’t stand country haha. It just doesn’t do anything for me. As much as I love the sweet sounds of the guitar, lots of country tracks recycle the same chord progressions and personally, I need some variety not only in melody but in sounds as well! Country’s got a lot of good vibes though, I’ll give it that.
How did you like your experience on Fresh Face Friday? – Give me some detail.
Fresh Face Friday has been among the most exciting experiences of my music career so far! I’ve never really had any serious promo, so when I was told my track had been chosen to compete, I was beyond stoked! I was nervous too, though. From the very beginning I was pretty much the underdog, as most of my competition had far more followers than I did and more plays on their tracks too. The first round was especially intense. My main competitor for that week lived in Malaysia, which is on the opposite side of the world of me, so his votes would go up during my night, and my votes would increase during the day. We were literally back and forth all week! In the end a wonderful thing happened, and I received more support than I could have dreamed of not only from family and friends, new & old, but especially from my school’s Greek system. San Jose State’s Greek community had my back from the start all the way to the final round! It really showed me just how much support I have for my dream, which was a very humbling, heart-warming experience. FFF also resulted in my first 1,000 plays on an individual track! Hero, the track that was competing, started the competition at around 400 plays and ended the final round with over 1,200!
Open comment to the world or mom and dad.
-Got to give a shout out to my mom and grandpa for constantly having my back in chasing my dream, as well as making my college career possible. And I’ve definitely got to shout out the Greek system at SJSU, primarily my own brothers of Pi Kappa Alpha, as well as the sororities that directly supported me at least once throughout the process (Alpha Omicron Pi, Alpha Phi, Alpha Xi Delta, Delta Gamma) I couldn’t have done it without you guys and your support means the world! Love y’all, fam.
Another open comment.
So there you have it, from contestant to Your EDM’s Fresh Face, Zakk kept on chugging throughout the various phases of, “Fresh Face Friday” and through around the clock working has been crowned victorious. I want to thank everyone that has participated in Fresh Face Friday and hope you continue to do so in the coming months as we stray away from House music and discover some unsolicited talent in the Dubstep and Drum & Bass genre. Check out Zakk’s newest single titled “Jupiter” below and make sure you vote for this weeks Fresh Face Friday competition, it is the first monthly phase in the new Dubstep and Drum & Bass Genre. Lastly here before I wish you all a goodnight and farewell, if you are a producer or friends with a Dubstep and Drum & Bass producer, send them my way and have them enter to be featured for “Fresh Face Friday” here.
Myüzak – Jupiter
Goodnight and farewell.